It’s such a romantic notion, isn’t it? The idea that someone is lost in a downward spiral, and that your love is the only thing that’s strong enough to pull them out of it. It’s a little self-indulgent too. A little self-involved. A little dramatic. But sometimes we can’t help ourselves.
Everything is an extreme these days. Work, finances, social outings, proposals, reunions, friendships, purchases, homes, holidays. And so naturally, we sometimes believe our love lives should be that way too. There should be a story behind our relationship with our significant other. The meet cute. The fights. The proclamations of love. The climax (I’m talking literary climax, come on hooligans). The resolution, in which everybody lives happily ever after.
We love the idea of being part of someone’s story – the good part. We like being part of a story that has importance, drama, twists and turns, happenings that keep people on the edge of their seats. And we like being part of a story that turns out okay in the end. We want to give people something to smile about, an anecdote they can pass on to their friends to remind them that hope does exist in the world.
That’s the shallow reason why we want to fix people. There’s a deeper, more personal reason too.
Most of us are just natural fixers. It’s in our blood as mortal beings.
We’ve all experienced suffering, in one way or another. Maybe it’s something from the past, maybe it’s happening right this very moment. Regardless of how recently we’ve been affected, we remember the pain more clearly than we remember almost anything else in our lives.
We remember the fear, the isolation, the worry, the desperation, the shock at how deeply things can cut us. And because we’re human, because we’re naturally fragile and empathetic and loving, we don’t want other people to feel that way. We want our pain to have meaning behind it, we want there to have been a reason for our suffering – and we want that reason to be that maybe we can prevent someone else from suffering too.
So we try to fix people. But people can’t be fixed. They’re not like tangible objects, that stay one way forever, until you change them. People change every day, because of a million different catalysts. People are complex and unpredictable and multi-sided.
You can try all you want, you can give everything you have to this relationship, you can throw yourself in front of a bus for him, but you’re never going to fix him. There will never be a month, or a day, or a moment that you finally reach in which he is fixed. In which he’s okay again and whole enough to love you completely, perfectly, and endlessly.
It has nothing to do with men. It has nothing to do with the idea that all men are evil or ‘unfixable.’ The reason you will never fix him is because he is human and all humans are complicated beings that are merely reacting to each individual thing that comes their way.
No one ever reaches a point where they are fixed and good and whole again. Because in one lifetime, a single person can be at various times good, evil, wrong, brave, selfish, loving, cold, ruthless, angry, sinful, caring, loyal, and a million other adjectives that could be listed.
Whether or not you stay with him is up to you. Because there’s a difference between loving someone in spite of all their flaws, and sticking by someone who mistreats you because you think you can save him.
I can’t tell you what to do, because every single person and every single relationship in this world is different. But what I can tell you to do is to pay attention to yourself, pay attention to your thoughts. Listen to your gut. Listen to the people around you that you can trust.
No one can be ‘fixed.’ But you’re smart enough to know if this person is a strong partner you can fight the demons with, or just someone who’s trying to pull you right back into the dark hole with them.